ICC Belfast celebrate International Women’s Day 2023
ICC Belfast celebrate International Women’s Day by supporting female event leaders of the future
ICC Belfast, Northern Ireland's only purpose-built international convention centre, is harnessing this year’s International Women’s Day theme - #EmbracingEquity - through a new partnership with SistersIN, a leadership and career development programme connecting schools with businesses who can help to empower female leaders of the future. ICC Belfast was one of the first organisations to join the programme and has been providing mentorship to female secondary school students from across Northern Ireland.
The partnership has reinforced the venue’s commitment to gender diversity. The organisation is led by Chief Executive Julia Corkey, and it has already achieved a 50:50 male female gender balance at executive level, with senior management roles throughout the business also now approaching a 50:50 gender split.
Preparing for SistersIN celebration event
Ten girls from various secondary schools across Northern Ireland have been selected to run a large-scale SistersIN celebration event at ICC Belfast on 24 March. Over 30 of Northern Ireland’s top companies across the digital, pharmaceutical and financial service industries including EY and Kainos are among those exhibiting at the event which is expected to attract over 1,000 delegates.
The schoolgirls have been preparing for the event since 2022 under the expert eye of ICC Belfast’s Chief Executive, Julia Corkey and Director of Sales and Marketing, Oonagh O’Reilly. Global award-winning Eimear Hone, a PCMA 20 in their Twenties Class of 2023 alum and Laurel Gray who holds a place on the International Association of Convention Centres Future Shapers programme, have also volunteered their time to the programme and continue to share their insights into various aspects of event sales and management. Julia Corkey said:
“Our team has relished the opportunity to work alongside tomorrow’s future female leaders to plan the inaugural SistersIN celebration event. I’m certain that the hands on experience the pupils have gained from shadowing our award-winning team will be really beneficial.
Equally, the unique perspectives that the SistersIN cohort have brought to the planning process have been a fantastic learning exercise for our team. The pupils now have an in-depth knowledge of what it takes to deliver a world-class business event as well as the important role ICC Belfast plays in Belfast and Northern Ireland’s overall economic development.”
One of the girls selected to for the 24 March event is Caoimhe Roe, a 17-year-old student at Assumption Grammar, Ballynahinch, Co. Down. She has been receiving one to one mentorship from the team at ICC Belfast - an experience that has made her feel more prepared for her future. Caoimhe said:
“I’ve been really enjoying my scheduled visits to ICC Belfast where I’ve had the chance to learn from the team. They’re all really inspiring and it’s exciting to think ahead to the future and see myself becoming as passionate and successful as they are. I’m really glad my school signed up to the programme because it’s helped me explore various career options, and have confidence in my abilities and skills.
“It’s been cool working with the nine girls from the other schools as we prepare for the event later this month. We’ve gelled well together and enjoy sharing our learnings and encouraging one another.”
Oonagh O’Reilly initiated the SistersIN collaboration, recognising how senior business leaders can empower young girls as they plan for their future, and the importance of continuing to attract female talent to the conferencing and events industry. Oonagh said:
“We’re proud to open the doors of our venue to the SistersIN programme and give young girls the opportunity to experience our industry, and benefit from our experience and leadership. I’m a firm believer in the powerful role mentorship can have on young people. The teenage years are a crucial time to develop self-belief, confidence and resilience.
“All of the young women working on the event are very impressive, and although our career journeys have inspired them, all of the team here have been inspired by their energy and enthusiasm. It’s been a rewarding experience watching them engage with and enjoy the events industry. Attracting diverse talent to the industry is crucial to its continued success. I look forward to continuing to work with SistersIN both providing mentorship, and offering up our venue as a platform for female students to shine.”
ICC Belfast - formerly Belfast Waterfront - is Belfast’s only purpose-built international convention centre. A £29.5m extension, unveiled in 2016, significantly increased the venue’s capacity and put Belfast in a position to compete globally for business events, an arena that has proved to be a critical driver for the region’s economy. It’s currently estimated that the industry could deliver £209 million in direct economic impact, and up to 2000 new jobs by 2030.
Visit sisters-in.org for more information.